Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ingrid's Still On? Never Mind, Let's Talk Onions...Plus A Little Rant

Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffmann

Coco Loco
Caribbean Salmon with Guava Barbecue Sauce and Mango Veggie Salsa
Best Basic White Rice
Coconut Popsicles
Pineapple Mojitos


To get the recipes:
Click here

HEY!!! INGRID, YOU'RE STILL HERE?

I guess so.

Ingrid begins the show by telling us that she loves barbecue sauce and she makes a Spanglish version of it. She gives us her favorite Chica Tip - she puts onions in the fridge for 10 minutes before she is going to use them.

To tell you the truth, this is legitimate advice, but Ingrid would never tell you WHY. There are sulfur compounds in onions, which get released when you cut into them. These compounds are attracted to water...in your eyes, for example, and are converted to acids. That causes the stinging we feel when chopping onions. Chilling them seems to prevent this toxic chemical reaction.

But there are other solutions out there too. If you run water, supposedly the sulfur compounds are attracted to THAT, instead of your eyes. (I've never found that to work too well.)

"They" also say you can stop the crying if you put something between the onions and your eyes - a piece of bread in your mouth, or stick out your tongue. The bread I don't exactly get, but the tongue kind of makes sense. The chemicals will be attracted to the moisture in your tongue, instead of your eyes.

One place suggested using a wet knife and wet cutting board. I haven't tried that one yet. OR WEAR GOGGLES OR A SNORKELLING MASK!!! Ummm... You know what? I think I'll just go with the tears.

There is one onion-related thing I've noticed in my long years of cooking. I wonder if you have too. Summer onions almost never make me cry, but in January or February, I'm bawling. I just thought it was because the summer onions were younger and after they're stored for the winter, they get stronger. That's sort of right. It turns out that the onions that we're using in the winter are called "storage onions" and the fact that they have a larger amount of sulfuric compounds than the younger summer onions is what makes them last longer.

I actually keep my onions in the fridge, but I go through them pretty quickly. They can go bad and get mushy if you don't get to them. I guess chilling them is the best answer, but I kind of like the idea of someone wearing goggles, sticking out her tongue and chopping her onions perhaps in a bathtub full of water. (The goggles will come in handy.)

Oh, darn, Ingrid's still here. She's chopping 2 of the largest onions I've ever seen, with nary a goggle in sight, and cooking them in vegetable oil.

She gets guava paste from the cupboard. She really likes its "tarty", lemony flavor. (Don't say it.) She slices two-thirds of it and adds it to the onions. Then she adds star anise.

There are basically only 2 things I hate in the world of food...the first is tarragon, the second is star anise.

She adds 1/2 teaspoon of allspice plus 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder. Really, why bother? Plus, she should have added that to the onions and cooked it for three minutes over super low heat. Then she adds apple cider and dark rum. Bluh! I was with her on the guava paste, but dark rum? The last thing to go in is tomato paste. That cooks for 15 minutes.

She sprays a foil lined baking sheet with Pam and puts a piece of salmon on it. Then Ingrid washes her hands incredibly well. The kitchen police must have really been on her from that first completely unsanitary episode.

She rolls 2 limes on the board and squeezes the juice into the barbecue sauce. She takes out the star anise. She spoons quite a lot of barbecue sauce on the salmon and lets it sit for 15 minutes, which she doesn't mention in the recipe.

Now she starts on the salsa by peeling two cloves of garlic. "I'll be pasting them"??! Ingrid, we actually call that CRUSHING the garlic, but whatever. She mashes the garlic into the salt on the board, really smashing the garlic to work it until it's fine. She whisks olive oil with 2 limes worth of juice and the salty garlic and sets it aside in the fridge.

"It's time to play with my peppers and serrano chiles." Ingrid cuts the tops and bottoms off the peppers and pushes the insides out in one piece. She's very proud of herself, except that she wastes an awful lot of the pepper that way. She chops the serrano chile after removing the seeds and veins. She even washes her hands after. Then Ingrid chops her (refrigerated) half a red onion. "Time to tango with a mango." Well, baby, I'd love to see you tango, much more than cook. Hey, have you noticed that she hasn't said baby in an episode or two? Do you think the folks at the FN told her to knock it off? Probably not. Maybe Mom did.

Ok, this is her dealing with a mango in a weird way again. She did it on another show, as well. She peels the mango with a potato peeler and then cuts them off in large slices and then dices them. I'm not sure what the advantage is of doing it that way.

Then she chops her fav, cilantro, but not nearly enough and adds black beans to her salsa. "It's all about seasoning your layers." I would agree with her there, except for one thing...SHE DIDN'T. She seasoned the whole thing together when it was in the bowl. That's kind of funny, I just checked the recipe. NOPE, not there either.

Ingrid, do you even know what you're talking about? Seasoning "your layers" is dealing with each ingredient separately, sometimes with just salt and pepper or with other herbs and spices and flavorings.

For example, in a ratatouille, I always sauté each ingredient separately. For the zucchini, I might flavor the oil first with garlic and then add salt and pepper as I sauté. For the eggplant, I would toss that in advance in some olive oil and add garlic just at the end of the sautéing time. The peppers gets a quick bath of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then go on a high heat for a very short time. Then I put it all together for a final simmering with tomatoes. But the point is each ingredient would taste great on its own. In Ingrid's case, she just threw everything together, which is fine, but then don't say YOU'RE LAYERING THE FLAVORS! Where am I? Oh, back in the kitchen with Ms. Hoochie Coochie, wait, that was Charo, wasn't it?

Next Ingrid shows us how to make rice. She mixes 2 cups of long grain white rice with 4 cups of chicken stock, butter and oil. She brings it to the boil and puts her overly large scraps of peppers in. Instead of adding garbage to her rice, why doesn't she cut the peppers properly in the first place and make less waste?

We're onto the mojitos, gosh, do I need one! She muddles (at least she uses the right word) together mint leaves, sugar and wedges of lime. Then she mixes ice with white rum, soda and...get ready for the big finish here...PINEAPPLE JUICE. She pours that over the muddled mixture and pours it into glasses. She adds a sugar cane stick to each glass and garnishes with a giant wadge (yes, I said WADGE, not wedge...wedge implies some thought went into its cutting) of pineapple, which she hasn't bothered to peel. That's just what I like when I drink a mojito - a big thorny piece of pineapple skin hitting me in the face.

Ingrid broils the salmon for 12 minutes and takes it out. Now, you may be surprised by my opinion of her apparent laziness in only broiling one side of the salmon. It is actually ok not to turn it. The heat from the top will cook it through. Usually, we're used to turning things when we broil or grill, but as long as you get the top nice and charry brown, it'll be ok. If you think about it, it makes sense. When you bake a piece of fish, you don't turn it over. Here, as long as one side is nicely browned, you're fine.

Oh, now it's time for the dressing to "marry" the salsa. "The time has come for this amazing wedding." She mixes it together. Whoa! That WAS hot. NOT!

Then she gets all excited because it's "time to build (her) tiny tower of rice." She sprays the inside of the top of the can of Pam and spoons the cooked rice in. She unmolds it on the plate. Everybody knows you can do that, right? The rice can even have been sitting on the back of the stove for a half hour. Of course, I don't use a can top, I use a little pyrex bowl, which needs no Pam.

She spoons the salsa on the plate and cuts a big piece of fish (not terribly cleanly) and lays it on there. She throws on some cilantro and a little more barbecue sauce. "Food done. Party on." She serves each plate individually. They look ok, but not like she needs her own television show to show us this.

Oh joy, there's still dessert. She dips popsicles, yup, I said popsicles, in rum and then dips the edges in demerara sugar. Chopped nuts would have made more sense.

Was anything really terrible? No. Did she enlighten me at all? No, I can't say she did. Did she entertain me? Not really. Educate me? Nah, definitely not.

Here we have another wasted opportunity to spread the word about how exciting and complex Latin food can be.

6 comments:

Cynthia said...

You probably get tired of hearing it but I do love your Food Network Musings. Tonight as I sipped some water while reading, it almost came through my nose! :D

Sue said...

Cynthia,
No, I do not get tired of hearing that. Feel free to tell me anytime...

And thank goodness it wasn't tequila that you were drinking!

Kathy said...

Sue, I love your blog. You are funny and informative. I haven't watch Ingrid since show #4. However, I love your recap. It makes my Sunday morning's complete.
The coochy mama (ingrid) drives me crazy. As a Latina and a Chef it drives me completely nuts. Her food is awful. She seems fake and for what I read here it doesn't get better.
I bet Ina with her hate for cilantro can cook better Latino food than Ingrid. The cooks at Taco Bell can cook better than Ingrid if given the opportunity.
Sue, keep the good writing coming!!!
Has anyone seen the new show Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. I think the British version is better; I truly learn from it. Lots of good info about running a food business. The American version however was, I wouldn't say bad but diferent from the original. Lots of screaming (and not always coming from Chef Ramsey). I think he is hot in a very weird_I am not proud of admitting it_ way.

Anonymous said...

The chica gotta go! Thanks Sue!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I just love your blog - I don't have to ever watch these shows - I learn all I need to from reading your posts!

Sue said...

Hi Kathy,
Mucho thanks for your comments. Ingrid is quite awful, isn't she?

I haven't seen either version of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. I saw the first Hell Is Being In The Kitchen With Gordon Ramsey or whatever it was called. I thought it was alot better than the next food network star. And I do kinda agree with you about GR. He has a really attractive face (when he's not screaming) and he looks like a good hugger. (And isn't that really what we're all looking for?)

Hi Anon,
I'm with you!

Hey Jenn,
Thanks for the comments. And from someone with such a rockin' blog, it means a lot.